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In the Wings
Gazette Theater Columnist Karen Edwards

Visit Theatre Column 2005

December 2004

Michael Louis Wilson as "Ebenezer Scrooge" (foreground) and Dayton Duvall (behind) as "The Ghost of Jacob Marley."
“God bless us, everyone!”

There's something about Tiny Tim's enthusiastic blessing that truly captures the heart and spirit of Christmas.

Maybe that's why no less than two versions of Dickens' timeless tale will be performed at local theaters this month (and we're not even counting the touring company that brings a traditional version to Columbus each year.)

The two local renditions of A Christmas Carol couldn't be more different. One is for children, the other for adults. One is centered in the familiar story; the other uses the story as a launching pad.

A CCT Christmas Carol
Ebenezer! made its world premiere at Columbus Children's Theater (CCT) on Nov. 26, and continues through Dec. 19 at CCT's Park Street Theatre, 512 N. Park Street in the Short North.

CCT Artistic Director Bill Goldsmith wrote a version of the Dickens' tale in 1983 for his four-member touring company, but he had always wanted to do a larger version, one that incorporated what Goldsmith refers to as the “Nicholas Nickleby motif.”

This motif is based on an eight-and-a-half-hour production of Nicholas Nickleby, first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, then performed, in 1983, by the Great Lakes Theatre Company in Cleveland.

Goldsmith went to see the Great Lakes production. “It literally changed my professional life,” he says. “It was a wonderful production, but what has stayed with me forever was the innovative use of 'choral narration' that was inherent in the piece.”

Choral narration is hard to describe in print - but picture 46 characters, speaking in unison, then only the women speak; then just the men; then just the children.

“It's like music, because of the different sounds created by the varied groups,” says Goldsmith.

The narration introduces characters, and, as they're described, the actors step downstage and into their roles, and the chorus/company melts away so the story can begin

Choral narration isn't the production's only “music” however. Goldsmith took his script to the team that wrote the music and lyrics for Anne of Green Gables – Janet Yates Bogt and Mark Friedman – and, working with Goldsmith, the pair produced a wonderful Ebenezer! score that even gives Jacob Marley (Scrooge's dead partner) a song to sing.

In order to ease audiences into the Dickensian world of Bob Cratchit, Mr. Fezziwig, and Ebenezer Scrooge, costumed actors mingle with the audience as they enter the theater. For audience members who would rather maintain a fourth wall between themselves and performers, you should know that the interaction is of the gentlest kind. You will be greeted in a cheery British accent, and maybe told how stunning you look in that dress or suit. Nothing more intrusive than that. And the technique succeeds admirably in setting the stage for the story to come.

“One cannot improve upon Dickens' story; it is magical,” says Goldsmith. “But this convention adds to the magic. We all love being told a story, and that's what happens here – a group of people telling a story.”

Thanks to Goldsmith's innovative script and direction, the sparkling Vogt-Friedman music, and the talent of 46 enthusiastic cast members, it's a one-hour show the entire family can enjoy…and may just become a holiday tradition for CCT.

Performances on Thursday and Friday are at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday performances are held at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.; and Sunday performances are held at 1 and 3 p.m. Prices vary.
For information or for tickets, call the CCT box office at (614) 224-6672 or e-mail

A MadLab Christmas Carol
MadLab Theatre has revived its production of Comrades' Christmas Carol just in time for the holidays. The play began Nov. 26 and will continue through Dec. 18. This is the play's fourth trip to the MadLab stage. Comrades' Christmas Carol was produced originally in 1998, then again in 1999 and 2001. “It has become one of our most popular original productions,” says MadLab Artistic Director Greg McGill. (Eric Myers and Dan O'Reilly wrote the play, with development by MadLab.) Comrades' Christmas Carol follows the misadventures of a blacklisted Marxist director and his attempts to radically reinterpret Dickens' holiday classic as a covert Communist tract.

“His dysfunctional cast doesn't make the job any easier,” says McGill, “And just when it seems as if things couldn't possibly get any worse, along comes opening night.”
The Dickens' story is used only as a springboard for what amounts to an entirely new and original creation. Don't be misled into thinking you'll see any version of the original story. You won't. But if you have seen one too many versions of A Christmas Carol, or you're looking for a different sort of holiday show because you're one “Bah, humbug!” away from becoming Scrooge yourself, you should enjoy MadLab's Comrade's Christmas Carol.

Performances run Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. at MadLab's theater, 105 N. Grant Ave. Ticket prices are $8-15, $6 for MadLab members, students and seniors.
Reservations can be made by calling (614) 470-2333, or by e-mailing

Other holiday fare…
Let's say you're still in the Christmas spirit, but you want something that will tickle your funny bone a little more than Dickens is likely to do. Then look no further than Christmas at 2Co's, 2Co's Cabaret annual holiday production, which began Nov. 17 and will continue through Dec. 30 at 2Co's theater/gallery at 790 N. High Street in the Short North.

New to this year's production is Army Issue Elf, playwright Paul Feig's short piece about a young man who recalls his embarrassing memories of playing a poorly costumed elf in an elementary school Christmas pageant. Tom Cardinal returns as Prancer, the reindeer with attitude, in Jeff Goode's monologue Hollywood.

Also returning are “The Christmas Queenies,” the “naughty and nice” musical send-up modeled after Shadowbox's “The Santa Babies.” Tom Cardinal, Chris Lynch and Joseph J. Lorenzo are the “Queenies” – taking lounge to a whole new level. House band Downtown DFN will contribute some holiday music to the show, including Sting's “Hounds of Winter,” and Jethro Tull's “Skating Away.”

“This year's holiday show combines brand new pieces with our best past-hit material,” says Tom Cardinal, 2Co's general manager. “The show is upbeat, funny, and the perfect compliment to the holiday season.”

Performances run Thursday through Sunday. Thursday shows start at 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. For information call (614) 470-2267, or visit

Hand-Dog Theatre Company
Santaland Diaries, a one-man comedy based on the writings of David Sedaris, will show at the Columbus Dance Theatre, 592 East Main Street, this month. The story, alternately serious and funny, tells of one man’s experience working as an elf at Macy’s Santaland in New York City, his encounters with unruly children, grumpy parents, lascivious co-worker elves, and eccentric Santas. The production by Hand-Dog Theatre Company will be held Dec. 10-12 and 17-19. Sunday at 2:00 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm. Tickets prices are $8. Call 614-886-0452 for reservations and information.

And non-traditional offerings…
Of course, not everyone in America celebrates Christmas (and some just want to escape from it for awhile), so it's nice to know that Columbus theater companies offer non-seasonal productions as well this month. Take, for example, the Contemporary American Theatre Company's (CATCO) production of Steve Martin's The Underpants, which opened Nov. 26 and will continue through Dec. 19 at Studio One in the Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a title like that? Unless, of course, that's the one Christmas gift you can count on from your parents.

The underpants in question belong to Louise Maske, who, while one day innocently watching a parade for the king, finds they have inexplicably fallen down around her ankles in full public view, mortifying Theo, her officious bureaucrat of a husband. The farce, directed by Jonathan Putnam, provides an entertaining antidote to crowded malls and the season's surplus of Victorian Secret catalogues. For information and reservations, contact (614) 469-0939, or visit

If December weather isn't providing you enough chills, check out Bread and Circus Theatre's Magenta Moth, which opened Dec. 3 and will continue through Dec. 11 at the Short Stop Youth Center Theatre, 1066 N. High Street in the Short North. (Performances are Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-11 only.) The play centers around two middle-aged women, a remote cabin in the woods, a cult-style mass murder, and two lost college students who suddenly knock on the cabin doors. Magenta Moth's chilling mystery will take your mind completely off your holiday “to-do” list, and the approaching onslaught of visiting relatives. For more information about the play, visit Bread and Circus Theatre's Web site, For tickets, call (614) 470-4895.

Want to really escape those holiday crowds? How about a trip to Oz? The Park Playhouse Teen Theatre and Children's Drama Company will perform The Wizard of Oz on Dec. 10 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 and 18 at l:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave. Based partly on the book by L. Frank Baum, and partly on the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, this version, originally re-interpreted by the Royal Shakespeare Company, includes the classic songs from the film with new additions like the Jitterbugs. Perfect entertainment for families who want to direct attention off Santa for a while.

Pete Morello and Joyce Patron in Center Stage Players production of Noises Off. The play runs December 10-12 in the Axis Nightclub, 755 N. High Street. Call 614-306-0447.

Finally, another farce: Center Stage Players will present Michael Frayn's Noises Off on Dec. 10-12 at the Axis Nightclub, 775 N. High Street in the Short North. This classic comedy, by Copenhagen playwright Michael Frayn, features a play within a play – as well as hilarious backstage developments – as actors (and characters) mingle, onstage and off. Showtimes start at 8 p.m. with an additional 2 p.m. show on Sunday, Dec. 12. A reserved table seat will cost you $12.50. For more information or for tickets, visit the Center Stage Web site,

Coming in January…
In 2002, Suzan Lori-Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for her comic play, Topdog/Underdog, a play about two brothers who specialize in the sidewalk hustle known as three-card monte. Red Herring Theatre Ensemble will perform the play Jan. 6 - 23 in Studio Two in the Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. The play offers a new take on the Cain and Abel story. Lincoln and Booth, abandoned by their parents and accustomed to betrayal and loss, live out their experiences of brotherly love and hate - while providing audiences a glimpse of what it's like to be an African-American male in this country today. For more information or for tickets, call (614) 469-0939.

Columbus Children's Theatre will offer Artistic Director William Goldsmith's version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears from Jan. 7 - 16 at its Park Street Theatre, 512 N. Park Street. If you think this is the tame bedtime tale you read years ago, think again. Goldsmith has added a good dose of humor to this “whodunit.” You'll enjoy it - even if you don't have kids. Call (614) 224-6672 or e-mail for tickets or more information.

The Contemporary American Theatre Company will present Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's Exonerated beginning Jan. 21 through Feb. 13, which includes real-life stories of those who have been wrongly accused, convicted, and sent to prison, only to be released as new evidence emerged. The docudrama provides a harrowing look at a justice system that too often isn't about justice at all.

Miscellaneous notes
The Columbus Performing Arts Center closes for a million-dollar renovation on Dec. 19 and will re-open in March. Prior to closing its doors for the remodeling, the Davis Performing Arts Programs held a “Prop-a-ganza” sale on Dec. 3, and allowed visitors one last chance to tour the historic building that used to house Player's Theatre. Next month's “In the Wings” column will provide a nostalgic look back at this piece of Columbus theater history.

Congratulations to BlueForms Theatre Group, which performed its newest original work InVulnerable for a Cincinnati audience in late October. The play tells the story of three young people living in New York City on Sept. 11, and offers an unblinking look at how political events and philosophy have been shaped by the tragic events of that day.
More kudos are also due BlueForms for their 24 Hours project - which challenges 30 Columbus Theatre artists to create five original plays in a 24-hour period. The resulting work was presented Dec. 4.

November 2004

It’s the economy, stupid

Discount tickets do exist
Photo courtesy of Jeroome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute

There’s no doubt that when times are tough financially, people take a closer look at how to spend their entertainment dollars. Sports, concerts, movies, theater. Which to choose? Chances are you don’t have cash for all of them. Sadly, theater too often falls low on priority lists. It shouldn’t. Theater is probably one of the best bargains in town, especially here in Columbus where a quality theater experience awaits everywhere. Still, discounts are appreciated, no question about it. And discount theater tickets do exist. You just have to know where to find them. Here’s a glance at what’s available for cash-strapped theater lovers.

Seniors and student discounts

Almost all Columbus theater troupes offer discounts for both seniors and students – so if your age hovers at either end of life’s timeline, the theater world is definitely accessible. Still, the question must be asked – who qualifies as “senior,” who qualifies as “student”?

Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO) considers its patrons “senior” if they’re 55 years or over, whereas students are college age and under. “No identification is required,” says Sarah Mills Bacha, CATCO’s public relationist. “If they say they’re a student or senior, we usually don’t argue with them.”

Since the Red Herring Theatre Ensemble operates, like CATCO, under the box office terms set by CAPA, seniors looking for discount tickets here will also need to be 55 years or over, and students college age and under. Again, no identification is required. Just tell the box office that you qualify for the discount.

“Senior” is a loose term at MadLab Theatre, says spokesperson Todd Thiel. “When I work the door and someone asks for a senior discount, I give it to them,” he says, adding, “We have seen an uptick in our audience from this demographic.” Students, high school through college, will need identification to secure a MadLab discount ticket, however. As far as younger students are concerned, Thiel says: “We don’t get many middle or grade schoolers, as you can imagine.”

That’s not the case at family-oriented Bread and Circus Theatre in the Short North. Here, students, age 18 and under and seniors, age 60 and older, can have a couple dollars shaved off the regular $12 ticket price. Although the company’s formal policy calls for identification, artistic director Howard Carpenter says “We’re not real picky. In reality, we would never turn any paying customers away, so it’s on the honor system, I guess.” College students, for example, usually receive the discount if they show a student ID. And children under six are admitted free to any Bread and Circus performance.

“We always discount for seniors and students,” says Katherine Burkman, artistic director of Women at Play. Seniors are 55 years and over. “Students can define themselves any way they want,” says Burkhart. The ticket price is regularly $15, a senior/student discount ticket is $10. No need to bring ID. “We trust,” says Burkman.

At the Short North’s 2Co’s Cabaret, seniors, age 55 and older, pay just $10 for all shows. Students, with a proper student ID, may purchase $10 tickets on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and late night Saturdays.

And, finally, Columbus Children’s Theatre (CCT) offers a $3 reduction on ticket prices for children (under 18 years), students (anyone in school) and seniors (55 years and older). In addition, a limited number of “High 5” tickets are available for students ages 13-18. The $5 tickets are good for evening performances during the first weekend only, and must be purchased at a Ticketmaster outlet. For more information, visit or call the CCT box office at (614) 224-6672.

Early bird discounts

CATCO is offering a new discount this season for theater lovers whose schedules will allow them to catch a mid-week, mid-day performance. The new $11 @ 11 program lets theater-goers attend a Wednesday CATCO performance at 11 a.m. for just $11. The mid-week Uncle Vanya performance ran October 6. Matinee dates for upcoming CATCO shows include: The Underpants, December 1; The Exonerated, January 26 and February 2; Lady Day, March 9; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 20 and 27; and Boston Marriage, June 8.
Order your $11 @ 11 tickets at Ticketmaster outlets or the Ohio Theater Ticket Office, (614) 431-3600 or (614) 469-0939. You can also order the discount tickets through In addition, CATCO also allows students and seniors who show up early at the box office a chance to purchase tickets at half price for that day’s show – based upon availability.

Columbus Children’s Theatre also offers half-off, discounted tickets to playgoers who arrive at the box office between 6:30 and 7 p.m. on the day of the show. The half-price tickets here are also based on availability. The CCT box office can provide more information. Contact (614) 224-6672, or visit

Miscellaneous discounts

When it comes to discounting tickets, 2Co’s Cabaret probably has more ways to do it than any other theater company. Whether they’re providing complimentary tickets to those who watch their Gallery Hop performances, or offering coupons through the Entertainment Book and Experience Columbus Days promotion – chances are you can find some way to experience a 2Co’s performance at a reduced rate. Specials periodically appear on the Easton Town Center Web site, for example, or through the group’s in-house telemarketing effort. “We also offer discounts from time to time at our shows,” says 2Co’s spokesperson, Katy Psenicka. “For those making advance reservations, we sometimes give a discount to encourage the reservation.” In other words, keep your eyes and ears open. Most likely, you’ll qualify for a 2Co’s reduced ticket price at some point.

Blueforms Theatre Group has a unique discount, designed specifically to benefit other theater artists. “Bring a program from any show you’ve worked on – and if your name appears in the credits, you can get in to see one of our shows for a buck,” says Blueforms founder Matt Slaybaugh. It doesn’t have to be a current program, says Slaybaugh, nor does it matter if you’re an actor, a technical artist, or a member of the run crew. “It’s just our way of making life a little easier for our fellow artists.”

Whether or not you qualify for any of the discounts described here, you should know that theater prices in this town are a bargain. For not much more than a ticket to the movies, and usually less than a ticket for a sporting event, you get live performances, sets, lights, costume, usually music, and sometimes dance.

Theater is simply one of the most personal, intimate forms of entertainment imaginable, so if you haven’t spent your entertainment dollars yet, think about setting aside some of it for theater. It will be money well spent.

Don’t forget CATCO’s gala Nov. 12

CATCO is twenty-one – and acting its age – at its benefit gala, to be held at Bella’s Italian Eatery and Night Club in the Brewery District from 8 p.m. until midnight on November 12. WBNS-TV anchor Angela Pace will host the festivities, including skits by CATCO actors, and music by Michael Sutherland. Tickets are limited, and may be scarce by the time you read this, so call the CATCO development office, (614) 719-6614, to ask about availability.

Playwriting workshops available

Women at Play will host Actwrite (two playwriting workshops) in November. The first workshop will be held November 14 and will emphasize acting. Participants will be asked to recite a memorized monologue from William Shakespeare or Samuel Beckett – or both. Then, on November 21, the workshop emphasis will switch to writing, although acting as well as process drama exercises will be a part of the day as well. Both workshops will be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at 2990 Shadywood Road in Columbus. Lunch is included. For more information, or to make a reservation to attend, contact Women at Play Artistic Director Katherine Burkman at (614) 457-6580.

On stage in November…

Jon Marballi (back) and Tod Zimmerman grab a peek as Louise (Joy Damschroder) accidentally drops her pants in The Underpants. Photo/ Dave Alkire

Comedian Steve Martin’s adaptation of a 1910 German farce, The Underpants, had a successful Off-Broadway run a couple of years ago. Now, Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO) will perform its own version of Martin’s adaptation November 26 through December 19 at Studio One in the Riffe Center. Jonathan Putnam directs the romp, which begins one Sunday morning when husband and wife, Louise and Theo, stop to watch a parade. Louise’s underwear accidentally, and scandalously, falls to the ground. Her mortified husband imagines the worst type of social and financial disasters befalling him as a result of the errant underwear – yet, he remains blind to the fact that the men who suddenly materialize as prospective lodgers for their room to let are there precisely because of his wife’s underpants. For tickets, or more information, contact (614) 469-0939.

Twisted Tales continues at 2Co’s Cabaret, 790 N. High Street in the Short North, through November 13. If you haven’t dropped by for the company’s annual salute to the “unexplained,” then you still have a short time to do so. The company blends monologues, a one-act play and amplified acoustic music into a neat little supernatural package that’s far superior to any of those trite ghost stories you hear around campfires. So what are you waiting for? Thursday performances are at 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. For information and tickets, call (614) 470-2267, or visit Then get ready for more holiday cheer – a different holiday, of course. 2Co’s Cabaret Christmas Show begins November 17. See next month’s column for more.

November may seem a strange time of year to present the Tennessee Williams classic Summer and Smoke, but Off Broad Street Players will perform the allegorical play November 18, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., and November 21 at 2 p.m. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Shedd Theatre, 549 Franklin Ave. The play takes place in Mississippi during the early 1990s, and centers around Alma Winemiller, a minister’s daughter, and John Buchanan, a doctor with a “penchant for the fast lane.” Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students (the show is appropriate for ages 14 and up), and seniors. For more information, or for tickets, call (614) 645-7469.

Columbus Children’s Theatre continues A Midnight Cry, by James Devita, through November 7 at its Park Street Theatre, 512 N. Park St. in the Short North. Performance times are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Ticket prices vary. CCT’s next production, Ebenezer! begins November 26 and runs through December 19. The play, based on Dickens beloved A Christmas Carol, is a world premiere, written by CCT artistic director William Goldsmith, with music by the creators of Anne of Green Gables. Call (614) 224-6672 or visit for tickets or more information.

MadLab Theatre will present Comrades Christmas Carol, one of the company’s most popular original productions, November 26 through December 18. The show features the misadventures of a blacklisted Marxist director who attempts a radical reinterpretation of Dickens’ timeless holiday classic. Showtimes are 8 p.m. every night at 105 N. Grant Ave. Ticket prices vary. Call (614) 470-2333 for more information or for tickets, or visit

Coming in December…

The Magenta Moth, Bread and Circus Theatre’s eerie suspense offering, will be performed December 3-5 and 10-11 at the Short Stop Youth Center Theatre, 1066 N. High Street. The play was planned for November until scheduling conflicts arose. Two middle-aged women, a remote cabin in the woods, a cult-style mass murder, and two lost college students who suddenly knock on the cabin door provide playgoers with plenty of chills. Tickets are available by calling (614) 470-4895. Visit Bread and Circus Theatre’s Web site (at its new address)

Center Stage Players will present Michael Frayn’s Noises Off on December 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the Axis Nightclub, 775 N. High Street in the Short North. The Copenhagen playwright penned this classic farce featuring a play within a play, as well as hilarious backstage developments, as actors (and characters) mingle, onstage and off. Shows start at 8 p.m. and a reserved table seat will cost you $12.50. For more information or for tickets, visit the Center Stage site

October 2004

First Columbus Fringe Festival to take place this spring


New York and Chicago have one. So do Orlando and Philadelphia. Shoot, as of this year, Ohio’s own Queen City, Cincinnati, developed one.

The fact is, there are 20 active Fringe Festivals operating in North America and now, thanks to the group at MadLab Theatre, Columbus will finally have its own Fringe Festival, which somehow makes the capital city seem just a little more culturally grownup.

For those unfamiliar with the fringe festival concept – think of it as the penultimate off-off-Broadway experience. The shows are experimental, a little edgier, maybe a little funkier than you would find at mainstream theaters – yet they’re just as thought provoking and entertaining as some of today’s classic theater pieces. Take Urinetown, a New York Fringe Festival upstart that moved uptown to Broadway, and, eventually, out on tour (the show bowed in Columbus this spring.)

MadLab is something of a fringe festival veteran. It participated at Cincinnati’s new Fringe Festival this year, and, in the past, has participated at the New York Fringe Festival. MadLab also frequently sends staff members to the New York festival with the idea of bringing festival favorites home to Columbus. MadLab’s wonderful spring production of Tales Told, for example, came from the New York Fringe Festival. To add an extra boost to MadLab’s qualifications as fringe festival host, one of the company’s staff members, Betsy Pandora, recently returned from a position as venue manager for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the birthplace of all fringe festivals.

Roulette changes to Fringe

Now, MadLab will turn its annual “Theatre Roulette” Festival into the Columbus Fringe Festival. “Theatre Roulette has been operating as a de facto fringe festival since its inception in 2000,” says Eric Myers, Madlab’s founding director. “Roulette has always been philosophically aligned with the international fringe movement. With MadLab’s expanded audience base, and new administrative and artistic resources, we believed the time was right to make official what has essentially been the case for years.”

Of course, timing has to be right not only for the sponsoring theater company, but for the city as well. Myers thinks Columbus has reached the point where it would appreciate and support a local fringe festival. “The cultural growth of the city is slowly translating into a greater appreciation of theater,” he says.

Columbus’ growth

And that appreciation extends beyond box-office draw. After all, the Columbus Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival is a fringe festival of sorts, and it has played successfully in Columbus twice. (The most recent festival ended last month. MadLab and the Short North’s own 2Co’s were among the festival’s venues.) And Columbus is finding room for a sudden proliferation of new theater companies, while continuing to support its more established, mainstream groups.

Columbus may not be quite the theater mecca that Chicago and New York are, but it is quickly earning a reputation as a place for quality theater experiences.
It’s not just theater audiences that benefit from this type of event, however. Theater groups, too, find advantages in the chance to collaborate and cross-pollinate.
“Working together collectively is the key to success for those working outside the mainstream,” says Myers.

Such collaboration led to the formation of the Columbus Theatre League – and Columbus has only grown richer as a result.

“By creating the festival, we hope to expand the amount of new stage work created in the community,” says Myers. “There is a wealth of talent and ideas in Columbus. The Fringe Festival may help to draw that out.”

MadLab is looking for volunteers to help get the first Columbus Fringe Festival up on its feet. If you’d like to become involved – as a performer, playwright, theater company, or donor – contact MadLab Theatre at (614) 470-2333. Visit regularly for developing news about the festival, or you can always check out Theatre Summit, Columbus’ theater zine at for the latest theater news. “In the Wings” will follow the story as well, and provide updates in future columns.

2Co’s Fall Fireball Fundraiser is Oct. 22

The annual fundraiser for 2Co’s Cabaret – one of barely a handful of theater companies still operating in the Short North – has been slated for Friday, October 22, from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., at the Valley Dale Ballroom, 1590 Sunbury Road. Shadowbox Cabaret will host the event for its spin-off troupe. The event will feature two silent auctions, and one live auction, as well as casino games, an appetizer buffet and a cash bar. There will be a wide variety of items to bid on – from couture clothing and vintage jewelry to get-away trips and cultural packages. For information and reservations to the event, call (614) 416-7625 or visit

CATCO Gala scheduled for Nov. 12

“Twenty-one and acting our age” is the theme of this year’s benefit gala for the Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO). CATCO actors will perform, and Michael Sutherland will sing the music of Frank Sinatra at the November 12 event, scheduled from 8 p.m. until midnight at Bella’s Italian Eatery and Night Club in the Brewery District. WBNS-TV’s Angela Pace will serve as the evening’s host. Tickets are limited, so if you plan to attend, make your reservations early by contacting the CATCO development office, 719-6614.

Onstage in October…

You think your marriage has problems? Double Talk: Love and Marriage thoughtfully dissects the entire institution of marriage, and holds it up for a closer look. Written as a collaborative effort by Women at Play, Double Talk tracks the progress of three couples who are receiving marital counseling from a therapist who isn’t above using some rather unorthodox techniques (anyone for a little shopping therapy?) “At a time when marriage is the focus of much discussion – partly because of the controversies raging over gay marriage – Double Talk explores the concept of love, togetherness, and how all of that works within the nature of the institution of marriage,” says Artistic Director Katherine Burkman. The play will be performed Oct. 21-24 and Oct. 29-31 at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. on Sundays. In keeping with the group’s site-appropriate performance locations, Double Talk will be performed at the JungHaus, 59 W. Third Ave., in Victorian Village. (The JungHaus includes the offices of four Jungian analysts – who are not a part of the production.) Space is limited, so please reserve tickets early. Tickets are $15; $10 for students/seniors. For further information or to order tickets, call (614) 457-6580.

Who knew the Russian dramatist, Anton Chekhov, best known for more melancholy dramas like The Seagull, could create a sparkling comedy about misplaced idealism and unrequited love? The Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO) will present Chek-hov’s classic Uncle Vanya October 1 through 24 at Studio One in the Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. Set on a country estate in nineteenth-century Russia, Uncle Vanya concerns the relationships between a retired professor, his second wife, and his brother-in-law and daughter from a previous marriage. The characters’ private (and sometimes public) failings are revealed with comedy, poignancy, and, of course, a touch of high drama. If you’re a member of the human race, you’ll no doubt see yourself somewhere during the course of the evening. CATCO has lined up a first-rate team for the play – Jonathan Putnam, Jon Farris, Mark Mann, Robin Gordon, Linda Dorff, Kerry Shanklin, Joy Damschroder and CATCO Artistic Director Geoff Nelson, who doubles as Uncle Vanya director and the play’s namesake character. CATCO’s 2004-2005 season is centered around the theme of passion. Uncle Vanya makes the perfect start. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets or for more information. You can also visit

Center Stage Players
Brad and Janet are ba-a-a-c-k…Center Stage Players will present their annual production of The Rocky Horror Show at Axis Nightclub & Theatre, 775 N. High Street, just in time for Halloween. The Richard O’Brien cult classic will be performed Oct. 22-23, and Oct. 29-31, with shows beginning promptly at 8 p.m. “This is our favorite show of the year,” says Ed Eblin, the show’s director. “It’s a great interactive show.” In fact, audiences are expected to throw rice, shout out the infamous call-backs, and sing along to “The Time Warp,” “Hot Patootie,” and “Wild & Untamed Thing.” Alan Saunders, who produces the Center Stage Rocky Horror says, “Every year we try to out-do our previous production. We cast new performers, create new costumes, and design new sets – but to make sure we’re true to our roots, we always attempt to sneak in one memorable aspect from the last time the show was performed. Our regular audience members tend to spot it rather quickly, and have a lot of fun pointing it out to their friends.” The cast – all volunteers – is a mix of OSU students, cast members from past Rocky Horror shows, and members of other local theater troupes. Tickets are $12.50 (children, 12 years and under, $8), and tables for up to four people are available at $50. For more information, visit Tickets are available online at the Center Stage Web site, from the group’s corporate sponsor, or You may also order tickets by phone: (614) 306-0447.
More Halloween fun can be found further north – at 2Co’s Cabaret, 790 North High Street. Here, you’ll find an all-new package of Twisted Tales, the company’s annual nod to ghost stories and the supernatural. Come explore the “unexplained” with the energetic 2Co’s troupe, as it performs monologues, a one-act play, and amplified acoustic music – all in keeping, of course, with the holiday “spirit.” Twisted Tales began Sept. 22 and will run through Nov. 13. Thursday performances are at 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $10-$20. For information and reservations, call (614) 470-2267, or visit And don’t forget 2Co’s The Vote for Me Tour, a music event which will continue to play on Sundays throughout October (3, 10, 17, 24, and 31). The event includes poetry, and music that moves from funky to the “delightfully bizarre.” Tickets are $5 in advance; $6 at the door. Call (614) 470-2267 for information and reservations.

Red Herring Theatre Ensemble stages Lanford Wilson’s Burn This from September 23 through October 16 at Studio Two in the Riffe Center. The play, set in a New York loft, focuses on a dancer/choreographer and the men in her life – including a gay ad executive who shares her loft, a screenwriter who loves her, and the wild, unpredictable brother of her recently deceased brother. Wilson’s 1987 play has much to say about art, passions, death – and overcoming our deepest fears and doubts. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets or for more information.

Coming in November…
Two middle-aged women, a remote cabin in the Maine Woods, a cult-style mass murder, and two lost college students who suddenly and unexpectedly knock on the cabin door. Those are the ingredients that make The Magenta Moth – Bread and Circus Theatre’s upcoming production – a must-see for suspense and thriller enthusiasts. The Magenta Moth plays upon a recurring nightmare,” says Artistic Director Howard Carpenter. “Pretty young innocents morph into embodiments of ruthless amorality and nihilism. Audiences should expect some shocks.” In fact, the traditionally family-friendly company has voluntarily alerted audiences to the play’s “PG-13” rating. The Magenta Moth was penned by John Patrick – the same man who wrote the Pulitzer-prize winning Teahouse of the August Moon. Scott Cotsmire will direct a blend of Bread and Circus Theatre regulars and newcomers. The play runs Nov. 12- Nov. 14, and Nov. 19-20. All performances are at 8 p.m. at the Short Stop Youth Center Theatre, 1066 N. High St. at Third Ave. Tickets are $10; $8 for students/seniors. Call (614) 470-4895 for reservations. For more information about the play, check out .

September 2004

Bread and Circus Theatre Creates a "classics" niche


Since the unceremonious demise of the Short North Playhouse, theater companies like Red Herring and Blue Forms have migrated to different locales - leaving the area poorer for their absence.

The good news, however, is that residents of the Short North and its surrounding environs have not become completely bereft of neighborhood theater. A new company, Center Stage Players, has taken up residency in the Axis Nightclub - and then there's the more veteran company that performs out of the Short Stop Youth Center, 1066 N. High Street.

If you weren't aware that such a company exists - then it's time you learned more about Bread and Circus Theatre.

Bread and Circus is a seven-year-old theater troupe formed originally by Richard Albert of Rosebriar Theatre, local actor John Feather, and Doug Hoehn, the former theater critic of Columbus Alive. When Albert and Hoehn moved to other states, Howard and Mony Carpenter, a husband-and-wife team who perform frequently with various theater companies around town, were asked to take over the company's operations.

"We took over the company in 2001," says Howard Carpenter, "with only $13 in the bank account. We grew the company from there."

 Classics focus retained

The goal of the original founders was to form a company that focused on presenting classic theater pieces - American and European - Williams to Voltaire.

"At the time, no one was doing that on a regular basis," says Mr. Carpenter. "Yet the founders believed that's what Columbus theater audiences wanted to see." When the Carpenters assumed control of the company, the Bread and Circus mission remained the same.

"We present family-friendly shows that are topical without being crude. We entertain our audiences without embarrassing them," says Mony Carpenter.

The company's philosophy works well with the location where they perform. The Short Stop Youth Center functions as an artistic refuge for neighborhood children who may not realize the artistic options available to them. (A portion of Bread and Circus profits go to the Short Stop Youth Center.) The youth center offers art and music, even a drama group, to any child who would like to participate. It's a hand-in-glove fit for the company that presents comedy and drama you can bring your kids to - without cringing at either the subject matter or language. That's not to say that Bread and Circus Theatre stages only Disney-like plays (although their first production this season, Sally Blane, World's Greatest Girl Detective could conceivably qualify).

"Classics like Picnic and Playboy of the Western World are as topical today as they were when they were written," says Mrs. Carpenter, but early dramatists like Inge and Synge didn't often turn to profanity or nudity to make their point.

In the general scheme of things, then, Bread and Circus Theatre seems the likely next step for families whose children have "outgrown" children's theater - especially since the company keeps its ticket prices within family budgets.

If Bread and Circus Theatre decides it wants to perform more risqué material, it produces the show under the name Stage-Left Production. Stage-Left is the name of a company that was actually formed by students at Columbus State Community College several years ago, but the group merged with Bread and Circus in 2002. Since the merger, Bread and Circus has only offered one show under the Stage-Left name, a production of Edward Albee's, Counting the Ways. "Because of the nature of the show, we thought it best if we separated it from the Bread and Circus name," explains Mrs. Carpenter. At present, there are no plans for any additional Stage-Left Productions, but the option, at least, remains available. 

Original works

Of course, it's a given that adults of all ages will enjoy the Bread and Circus repertoire. Classics are, well, classic, and the original work the company produces is done with the idea of presenting quality entertainment with a contemporary message. Love! Valour! Sheep! - presented by the group two years ago, and penned by Howard Carpenter - was well received by audiences. Both Carpenters have since written a new play, Age of Wolves, which will debut this spring. In between Sally Blane and Age of Wolves, the company will perform The Magenta Moth - "a spooky tale about two spinster sisters."

Performance space in the center has its pluses and minuses, as any performance space does. Since the Short Stop Youth Center is actually a converted church - picture the sanctuary at any urban church, and you can probably imagine some of the pitfalls for yourself.

"There are no wings," says Mr. Carpenter. Any "side entrances" have to come from a creatively designed set. Backstage space is also limited, "and we have to be careful about where we put dancers on the stage," says Mrs. Carpenter. "There is a four-foot drop to the floor from the stage, and even the audience becomes nervous watching dancers who wander too close to an edge."

On the plus side, however, is the area's lofty ceiling. "We built two 2-story homes on stage for Picnic," says Mr. Carpenter. The space accommodated them beautifully.

Certain structural renovations have been made to the space recently, and heating and cooling is no longer a problem, so this season's audience should be a little more comfortable as they view the plays.

Bread and Circus Theater has developed a loyal core following, and attendance figures continue to grow as word-of-mouth spreads about the company and its quality performances.

"We are beginning to see more area residents at our shows," says Mrs. Carpenter. Some are lured in by the sign out front, others are parents of children who regularly visit the Short Stop.

The company, itself, is 30 members large, seven of whom serve as board members (this year's president is company member Will Trakas.) "We operate as an ensemble company," says Mrs. Carpenter. "We work together. There are no prima donnas here. We may have lead actors and actresses, but we all understand that everyone contributes to the production, from supporting cast to technical crew. If they don't do their job, the leads can't do theirs."

Bread and Circus does hold open auditions, so you are as apt to see a new face at a production as a familiar one.

Bread and Circus Theatre opens this season with the musical (the company's first) Sally Blane, World's Greatest Girl Detective. If rehearsals are any indication, audience members are in for a treat. The show is funny - it's a spoof of the Nancy Drew-type mystery novel - and it's perfect entertainment for the whole family. In other words, an exemplary Bread and Circus Theatre production.

The Short North Playhouse may no longer be around, but there is plenty of good theater taking place in the neighborhood. Just head for the brick building at Third and High.

Sally Blane, World's Greatest Girl Detective will be presented by Bread and Circus Theatre from September 10-18, 2004, at the Short Stop Youth Center, 1066 N. High Street. Tickets are available at the door, or you can contact (614) 470-4895. You may also order tickets online at

GLBT Festival, MadLab Cliffhangers

If you haven't been paying attention to Columbus' theater scene lately, you may not have noticed that theater here has become as diverse and exciting as anything you're likely to find in cities like Chicago or New York. Whether your tastes lean toward theater classics, Shakespeare, or edgy, avant-garde fare, you don't have to leave town anymore to find it.

Two perfect examples of just how far Columbus theater has come are this month's Cliffhangers: The Seven Deadly Sins, offered by MadLab Theatre, and the 2nd Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival, sponsored by Act Out Productions.

Cliffhangers is MadLab's take on the serial melodrama concept. Each week during September and October (September 9 through October 30), MadLab will present a new one-hour play developed in the improvisational style and based on one of the seven deadly sins. Each show is connected to its predecessor by some element and will end with a hanging plot-line of course, but you won't have to attend every show to enjoy the series. Each play is complete on its own. Cliffhangers is a daring adventure (not to mention a complicated production schedule) for a company that proved long ago it's not afraid to take a dramatic risk now and then.

For more information, email publicity or call the theater at (614) 470-2333. You can also visit MadLab's Web site, MadLab is located at 105 N. Grant Avenue. Tickets are $10 ($7 for MadLab members).

For true diversity in theater entertainment, schedule some time to attend any or all of the 29 productions to be featured during the 2nd Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival. The festival will be held September 9-18 at various locations around the Short North and downtown. All of the plays will be new, and all will reflect the amazing breadth and depth of the gay and lesbian life experience. Even if you're heterosexual, you're going to find universal themes and truths in the comedies and dramas that will be presented during the festival's run. Lounge-Zilla and Living Inside Myself are two you won't want to miss, but since the festival represents the best in gay and lesbian theater from around the country, you can't go wrong with any performance you choose. For information about the festival, visit Tickets are $10.

 Wizard of Oz auditions

Park Playhouse Teen Theatre and Children's Drama Company will hold auditions for the stage play The Wizard of Oz September 7 and 8 at 6 p.m. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Avenue. If you're interested in auditioning, come dressed to move, and bring a photo and resume. You'll also want to bring your activity calendar to determine any scheduling conflicts. For more information, contact (614) 645-7469.

On stage in September 

Red Herring Theatre Ensemble will stage Lanford Wilson's Burn This from September 23 through October 16 at Studio Two in the Riffe Center. The play, set in a New York loft, focuses on a dancer/choreographer and the men in her life, including a gay ad executive who shares her loft, a screenwriter who loves her, and the wild, unpredictable brother of her recently deceased brother. Wilson's 1987 play has much to say about art, passions, death - and overcoming our deepest fears and doubts. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets or for more information.

Tulsa just wants to spread her mother's ashes. She never bargained on the strange cast of characters who end up, with her, at Bob's Motel. The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild is the newest offering from the BlueForms Theatre Group.

Tara DiLorenzo directs the cautionary tale about living our lives to their fullest potential, no matter the cost. The play will be performed at the Arts Annex in Grandview September 24 through October 3. Tickets will be available at the door, or contact (614) 975-3764 or visit to make a reservation. Or click on

Looking to put yourself in a spooky Halloween mood? Then come to 2Co's Cabaret September 22 through November 13 for all new Twisted Tales, an annual event that features plenty of "bone-chilling theater and thought-provoking music." Thursday shows begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. For reservations or for more information, call (614) 437-2267 or visit the Web site at

Gertrude Stein lives again

It has been three years since Women at Play staged their reading of Marty Martin's play, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein in Columbus. Since then, the group has staged readings of the play at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts in Florida, and at Cleveland's John Carroll University.

Now, the one-woman show will be performed again in Columbus - September 19 at 2 p.m. at the Sherrie Gallery, 937 N High Street.

Katherine Burkman, Women at Play artistic director, revives her performance of the legendary Gertrude Stein on the eve of her eviction from her Paris studio apartment, where she and companion, Alice B. Toklas, entertained and nurtured the cream of Parisian's 1920 literary and artistic society. Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Isadora Duncan and Salvador Dali all play a role in Stein's reminiscences as she prepares to leave her beloved 27 rue de Fleurus apartment. Women at Play member Jane Cottrell directs. For more information and tickets to the single performance, contact Katherine Burkman, (614) 457-6580.

Theatre Summit reviews season

Theatre Summit, Columbus' theater zine, has asked members of the city's theater community to name last season's best locally produced show - and why. The results appear in a special "Season-in-Review" piece in the September issue of Theatre Summit which debuts at the September Gallery Hop. Shows must have opened between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004 to be recommended.

"We looked for participation from a large cross-section of the Columbus theater community," says John Dranschak, who, along with Matt Slaybaugh and Max Ink, produce the quarterly issues of Theatre Summit, and also manage the online version.

If you miss out on a copy of Theatre Summit's print version, visit for the electronic issue. And congrats to all those named "best locally produced show"!

Coming in October

The Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO) will present Chekhov's Uncle Vanya from October 1 through 24 at Studio One in the Riffe Center. The "country life" tale focuses on a retired professor who returns to his estate with his new wife who is not much older than his daughter. Romantic sparks fly, but between whom is what makes the play interesting. CATCO Artistic Director Geoffrey Nelson will direct and perform along with other CATCO regulars. For information or for tickets, call (614) 469-0939.

 Photo Gus Brunsman III

(L to R) Bread and Circus Theatre's Howard Carpenter (Director of Sally Blane, World's Greatest Girl Detective); Mony Carpenter (Fricka Norse); Emily Davis (Amaryllis White); and Sarah Storer (Consuelo Wordsworth).

August 2004

Columbus hosts 2nd Gay/Lesbian Theatre Festival


Watch out for Lounge-Zilla!

According to actor-director Frank Barnhart, the comedy may well be the break-out hit of the 2nd Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival, which will run from September 9-18, 2004, at various locations around Columbus, Ohio.

"If the whole play is as funny as the video clip I saw, it will be one of the hottest tickets this festival," he says.

Barnhart, whose production company Act Out Productions is hosting the event, created the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival two years ago after attending a similar event in California, and serves as Columbus' Festival Director.

"The concept of a national gay and lesbian theatre festival has been around for a while," he says - but none of the festivals had any real organization behind them.

"I wanted to create a festival that would treat participants the way I would want to be treated. I wanted to create a good experience."

He did. The first festival was a success for players and audience members alike.

"We don't see much gay and lesbian theater in Columbus, and what we do see is limited in subject matter," says Barnhart, "it's too mainstream."

Diverse voices

The festival offers plays that reflect a diverse mix of experiences and voices. After all, not every GLBT (gay/lesbian/ bisexual/transgender) experience is the same, and tastes vary from region to region. For Barnhart, that's what makes the festival interesting.

"We know Columbus theater. The festival gives us a chance to see what's popular in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans," he says.

Playwright Doric Wilson, who pioneered off-off Broadway, and served as one of the founding members of Circle Repertory Theater, adds that, "In an era when gay history disappears even faster than it happens, an event like this in Columbus, Ohio, is essential to the survival of our culture - a chance for us to meet each other, explore new works, and celebrate Gay and Lesbian theater in all its diversity."

Barnhart says he has been working on the festival since May 2003, when the first applications for the 2004 festival began to arrive.

Favorites return

Many of the performers from the first festival will be back - with all new material, one of the festival's mandates. So if you missed the 2002 best-of-festival performance Santa Claus Is Coming Out, you're out of luck. But Santa Claus creator-performer Jeffrey Solomon will be back, and New York City singer/actor/ writer Estrada plans to premiere a new work during the 2004 festival. Puppet Queers will be back - "they pre-date Avenue Q," says Barnhart - as will Marjorie Conn of Conn Artists, Inc.

New this year is Florida's The Oops Guys, who will present Lounge-Zilla, a campy send-up of cabaret and lounge acts that has played to rave reviews throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Barnhart also recommends Living Inside Myself, presented by Jamie Black of Evanston, Illinois, as another good choice for 2004 festival attendees. "Jamie Black was born a girl," says Barnhart, and this one-man show explores his journey to his authentic self in a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes musical, but always engaging style.

Festival grows

In all, 29 productions will be held over the festival's ten days offering over 85 performances, an increase over the 24 productions held in 2002. And to make matters more convenient this year, plays will be staged in only three venues: at 2Co's, MadLab, and the Columbus Performing Arts Center theaters (formerly Davis Discovery Center).

A seven-judge panel will attend performances throughout the festival - at least three per show - and award another best-of-festival prize, along with 20 other recognitions, ranging from best comedy, drama, musical, and socio-political play to best director, actress and actor. Audience members will have an opportunity to vote for their choice for best drama and comedy.

For the first time this year, the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival has become a non-profit entity and will take on an advisory board, which will include Wilson, Estrada, Conn, Solomon and other theater professionals. Funding for the festival comes primarily from grants, corporate sponsorships, and a portion of the previous festival's profits.

Barnhart is expecting another good turnout for the 2004 festival and, eventually, would like to see the festival become even more prominent on the national front. "Columbus offers theatergoers a quality experience," he says. "I'd like to see Columbus become a theater destination."

The Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival is doing its part in enriching the Columbus theater experience.

Universal truths

"Because this is a Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival, the material reflects the gay and lesbian experience," says Barnhart, "But like all theater, there are values and universal truths in each play that anyone can identify with, gay or straight. There is something for everyone."

Ticket prices, in keeping with the festival mission, are accessible - $10 per ticket, or you can buy a five-show "subscription" that allows you to use the tickets for different shows, or for the same show, if you have four friends you'd like to bring along. The best bargain, however, is probably the "gold pass" for $150. It allows you into any show throughout the 10-day run.

Performance times vary, so you'll need to log on to the Festival Web site for specific times and for more information:

Red Herring presents a world premiere

Red Herring Theatre Ensemble starts its 2004-2005 season with a world premiere - A Set of Thoughtful Guidelines for Leading a Happy Life - a new play written by ensemble member Chris Dickman. The play examines the American family from the perspective of its hero, "Smith", an amnesiac who finds himself alone in a hotel room watching television. His past is revealed through a series of sitcom episodes that span the entire range of the archetypal American family experience. The production opens August 12 and runs through September 4 at Studio Two in the Riffe Center. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets or more information.

On stage in August

"What better show to do at Axis than the story of a buxom alien aviatrix searching the city for men?" The question comes from Jim Bouyack, who directed Center Stage Players current production, Zombies from Beyond, which will be performed August 6-7, and August 13-15 at the Short North's Axis Nightclub and Theatre. The show gently spoofs 1950s "invasion stories" as it tells the story of Zombina who has come to earth from Planet X to round up a few good men - for a good cause, of course. Performances at 8 p.m., except for Sunday performances beginning at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the door which opens at 7:30 p.m.

For anyone interested in becoming a part of any Center Stage Players production during the remaining season or the upcoming 2005 season, Center Stage Players' Annual Open House will be held on Tuesday, August 10. This event is only offered to new people, not to anyone who has been in a past production. These individuals will be invited to sit down and talk about their ambitions and the kind of roles they are interested in. They will then be invited to "callbacks" for upcoming shows including the annual Short North tradition - The Rocky Horror Show! The open house will take place at Christ Church on West 4th Street behind Family Dollar on High Street at 7p.m.

From one fantasy to another

Children's Drama Company will present The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the popular C.S. Lewis book, on August 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center's Shedd Theatre, 549 Franklin Avenue. Ticket costs are $5, and showtime is 2 p.m. For more information, contact (614) 645-7469.

The Actors' Theatre closes its season with Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare's farce of mistaken identity, fast-paced action, improbable situations, and a crew of eccentric characters, all set in the glorious splendor of Greece (although the Bard borrowed the plot from a popular Roman playwright). The production opened on July 30, and continues through August 22 at the Schiller Park Amphitheater in German Village. Show times are Thursday through Sunday, 8 p.m. Admission is free (BYOB - bring your own blanket!)

While Actors' Theatre mixes up lovers at Schiller Park, 2Co's Cabaret continues to introduce audiences to Friends and Lovers, the group's current offering of music, sketches and plays focused around - guess what? Love, of course. Among the shows to be presented is Class Dismissed by Rich Orloff. The play looks at a man released from his professorial duties after his romantic relationship with a male student (John Croke) is discovered. Cardinal and Croke will reprise their roles later this summer at the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival. Additionally, 2Co's continues to celebrate its 10-year anniversary (shared with Shadowbox Cabaret) by re-staging Don Nigro's romantic and quirky Creamery, originally produced at Shadowbox in March 1997. Friends and Lovers opened July 21 and runs every Thursday through Saturday until September 18. Thursday shows begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $10 - $20. For information and reservations call 2Co's Cabaret at 614-470-2Co's (2267) or visit

Women at Play auditions

Women at Play, the female acting company that performs at site-specific locations, will hold auditions for both of its 2004-2005 plays on Saturday, August 21. Auditions for its first production, Doubletalk: Love and Marriage; will be held between 10 a.m. and noon, and auditions for its spring play, Orchidelirum, will be held between 1 and 3 p.m. Appointments are needed. To schedule an appointment, or for more information, contact Katherine Burkman, (614) 457-6580 or e-mail: Watch "In the Wings" for more details on both plays.

Coming in September

The Columbus theater season kicks back into high gear in September. Be sure to put the following productions on your September calendar (more details next month): The Blueforms Theatre Group will perform The Life and Times of Tulsa Love Child - Greg Owens' cautionary tale about living our lives to their fullest potential - no matter the cost. Tara DiLorenzo will direct. The play will be performed September 24 through October 3 at the Arts Annex in Grandview. Tickets are available at the door, or call (614) 975-3764 or email to make a reservation. More information at

Burn This, Lanford Wilson's play about the role of art and love in our lives, will be presented by the Red Herring Theatre Ensemble from September 23 through October 16 at Studio Two in the Riffe Center. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets.

Cliffhangers: The Seven Deadly Sins is the name of MadLab's unique September production. Each week, a new one-hour play will be presented based on one of the seven deadly sins. Although you won't have to attend every show in order to enjoy the series, you'll probably want to. From September 9 through October 30. Call MadLab, (614) 470-2333 or visit for more information.

Bread and Circus Theatre Company kicks off its fall season with Sally Blane, World's Greatest Girl Detective, a musical spoof of the teen detective genre. Artistic Director Howard Carpenter will direct. The musical will be held at the Short Stop Youth Center, 1066 N. High Street, September 10 - 18. Call (614) 470-4895 for reservations. Also visit

All new Twisted Tales will be told at 2Co's Cabaret on Thursday and Saturday nights, beginning September 22 through November 13. Look for "bone-chilling theater and thought-provoking music." Thursday shows begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday shows will start at 8 p.m. For reservations or more information, call (614) 437-2267 or visit the web site at

July 2004

Why Theatergoers Should Celebrate CTL's Anniversary


It began a year ago - just a germ of an idea.

Matt Slaybaugh, founder of BlueForms Theatre Group returned from a trip to Chicago, impressed by a magazine he had picked up which promoted the shows of numerous theater companies around town.

At one time, he adds, Cincinnati had a league of area theaters as well, along with a Web site promoting their shows, and Slaybaugh saw the possibilities that such a theater coalition could have in Columbus.

Not that a network of theaters didn't already exist here. Theatre Roundtable, comprised of about 25 member companies, has been Columbus' primary organization for the theater community for years.

But Slaybaugh envisioned something different, something that focused on the city's smaller companies and which would become more proactively involved with promotion and other practicalities.

He began to discuss the idea with colleagues - Liz Fitts of Warehouse Theatre; Dale Gregory of Pantheatrics; and Greg McGill and Andy Batt of MadLab Theatre. Slowly, the idea began to take shape. Finally, last summer, it emerged as the Columbus Theatre League (CTL).

Now, a year into its growth, its founding companies are comfortable with the league's mission and direction, even as they seek to find better ways to accomplish its goal:

"The CTL wants to create a habit of theatergoing in Columbus," says Slaybaugh.

In a city as sports-minded as Columbus, that can be a difficult goal to achieve, but not impossible. It means taking baby steps, like cross-promoting each other's shows.

"A study was done in Columbus about 10 years ago, and it showed that Columbus theatergoers are primarily loyal to one company," says Slaybaugh.

Creating theater samplers

The CTL wants to turn the city's theater audiences into "samplers" - people who may attend a CATCO show one week, Red Herring the next, and a Warehouse, MadLab, BlueForms, or 2Co's show in the weeks following that.

"At every performance of a CTL member show, you'll hear an announcement about shows our other members are doing," says MadLab artistic director Greg McGill.

Not that non-CTL members are left out. The CTL Web site created and maintained by Slaybaugh, provides information on any theater event that may be happening in the city, regardless of whether the company is a CTL member.

And the cross promotion seems to be working.

"We set new box-office records with Theatre Roulette," says MadLab's Andy Batt. "And I've heard similar stories from other theater companies all over the city."

Practical advantages

Of course it helps that CTL members are required to attend each others' shows, but that wouldn't account for record attendance figures. It seems that such a simple step as making theatergoers aware of shows by other companies is making a difference.

CTL companies find there are practical advantages to membership as well. They share resources, knowledge, information and experience with each other.

"The great thing is, I trust these people," says Slaybaugh. "If they give me a recommendation or tell me how to do something, I trust the information."

It explains, in part, why CTL membership has expanded by only one company during its first year of existence (Out of Our Heads, a comedy improv group, came into the league several months ago.)

CTL membership is by invitation only because members want to know they can trust the companies that join and that those companies are philosophically aligned with the CTL's "promoting theatre culture" mission.

"It's not easy making the commitment to attend each other's shows," says Batt. "But we think it's important. If we are asking the Columbus community to attend our shows, we should show the same level of support."

It's also important to the league's present members that those who join in the future are dedicated to Columbus.

"It's the single most important thing that the CTL groups have in common," says Slaybaugh. "We believe in this city. That's another reason we're growing slowly.

We want to work with people who are dedicated, not just to doing good theater, but more important, to performing in Columbus."

"We're not saying we want to keep the CTL small," says McGill. "But if we are going to grow, it should be slowly."

Combined events

Over the past year, the CTL has hosted two events - Four Spoonfuls of Theatre last October and Before, After, Exactly Now this past March - to introduce Columbus audiences to CTL members.

The league is already planning a booth at this year's Comfest.

"When someone stops by, I'll tell them about MadLab shows," says McGill, "but I'll also know enough about our other members' shows to answer questions or provide information."

It's that spirit of cooperation, along with the CTL's drive to create a theater culture in Columbus that has already earned the league recognition and appreciation. (The CTL received the Critics Citation Award at this year's Theatre Roundtable's annual award ceremony.)

"We want people in Columbus to know that they don't have to leave town to have a quality theater experience. They can have that experience right here," says Slaybaugh.

"Ultimately, we want Columbus to be a destination theater town," adds McGill.

With the CTL in place, that goal stands a very real chance of being met in the not-too-distant future. And that is reason enough for Columbus' theater audiences to celebrate CTL's first anniversary right along with them.

MadLab's "Volatility" is July 17

MadLab's annual all-day festival/ fundraiser "Volatility" is scheduled for July 17 this year at MadLab Theatre, 105 N. Grant Avenue. The money raised from the event will benefit the company's "building renovation fund." Over the last two years, MadLab has collected $11,000 toward their $15,000 goal to upgrade their present facilities.

"Volatility" is open to the public and admission is $5. Bands, vendor booths, including one selling MadLab merchandise, food and drink vendors (including beer) and a silent auction are all part of the fun. Doors open at 3 p.m. The last band is scheduled to play at 12:30 a.m.

For more information about the event, call (614) 470-2333 or e-mail:

"Psycho Beach Party" set for July 23, 2004

What happens when a sweet young thing with a troubling multiple personality disorder decides to take surfing lessons? The answer is the off-Broadway hit Psycho Beach Party, the latest presentation from Eye Stop Productions, Columbus' newest and boldest theater company.

Why bold? Eye Stop may be the only professional theater company in town that takes the risk of mixing non-theater professionals in with its cast. The result is a polished, quality show - but with extra doses of enthusiasm, energy, and fun "We're attracting a new audience of non-theatergoers in addition to regular theatergoers," says Anthony Peeples, Eye Stop's co-founder and artistic director.

Psycho Beach Party will be presented at the Wallstreet Nightclub, 144 N. Wall Street, Friday through Sunday, July 23-August 1. Show times are 7 p.m.; 2 p.m. Sundays. The play, by Charles Busch, is an affectionate spoof of the beach party movies that dominated screens in the 1960s.

"The play contains elements of yesterday's surfer movies with today's slasher films and thrillers," says Peeples. "In other words, it's mindless, campy fun perfect for summer audiences."

Tables for four can be reserved for $40. General admission ticket price is $12, students pay $10. For tickets and information, contact (614) 299-7667 or e-mail"

Also on stage in July

MadLab and Full Frontal Nudity continue their comedy sketch/improvisational show, Are You My Daddy? at MadLab Theatre, 105 N. Grant Avenue through July 10. Hurry! There are just a few days left to catch this summertime gem. Visit for more information about the show - or tickets.

If you can't help but think of Southern drawls and sweet iced tea in the summer, then has 2Co's Cabaret got the show for you! Southern Comfort, a perfect mix of one-acts, and comedy sketches, will continue at 790 N. High Street, 2 Co's address, until July 17. Call (614)470-2267 for more information. The company's new show, Friends and Lovers, will start July 22 and continue through August.

Actors' Theatre Company will present Shakespeare's Hamlet at Schiller Park through July 15 - then, Shakespeare on Love will take over through July 25. There is no question that the Elizabethean poet was a true romantic at heart. The company will present a review of some of Shake-speare's classiest - and most passionate - love scenes, so grab your sweetheart and a blanket, and spend a scintillating night under the stars, watching how a woman's heart is really won.

Coming in August

Center Stage Players, Axis Nightclub & Theatre's resident theater company, will present Zombies from Beyond August 6-7 and August 13-14. The musical comedy, set in the 1950s, spoofs everything from the space race to the Cold War. Don't miss it. And congratulations to Center Stage Players - which will celebrate its first birthday August 8.

Comedy of Errors will romp through Schiller Park, courtesy of Actors' Theatre Company, through most of August. The play will actually start the weekend before July 30 and 31.

"Cliffhangers" coming this fall

Old-fashioned cliffhangers are coming to MadLabÉand they promise to be sinfully fun.

Cliffhangers: The Seven Deadly Sins will be unlike any production ever seen in Central Ohio - or possibly anywhere else, for that matter.

The eight-week show has been in development since 1992 when MadLab producing director Chris Lane created the idea after watching cliffhanger-style movies from the 1940s and 1950s. Each week, a new one-hour play will be presented, based around one of the seven deadly sins. The shows will be connected somehow, through character, thought, object or idea, but each storyline will stand on its own, so while the MadLab crew has worked out an intricate matrix allowing you several opportunities to see each show, you don't have to see all of them to enjoy, say, a handful of sins.

The Cliffhangers is MadLab's second, annual Ensemble show, and will debut the weekend of September 16 with Sloth.

All performances are at MadLab, 105 N. Grant Ave. For more information, contact or call (614) 470-2333.

Matt Izor and Fabiana Furgal in Eye Stop Production's Psycho Beach Party showing at Wallstreet Nightclub July 23-Aug 1. 299-7667

June 2004

Theatre Summit keeps playgoers informed


There is plenty of good theatre happening in Columbus, but it's not always easy to find. Enter Theatre Summit, the city's equivalent of Broadway's Playbill - done on a shoestring budget. The quarterly zine, now in its third issue, is the brainchild of Blueforms founder Matt Slaybaugh.

"I read that in the late '70s, early '80s, the independent music, punk rock movement grew from the use of underground publications put out basically from people's basements," he says. The homemade publications served a purpose - to alert fans where and when local musicians were performing. "I thought it was a good idea, something I could do to promote local theatre, and help people feel connected."

Slaybaugh and John Dranschak wrote and assembled the first issue last summer. Roughly 100 copies were distributed to coffeeshops and other locations around town, and were snapped up so quickly you can be forgiven if you never knew the publication existed. It wasn't around long enough to provide any real name recognition.

Issue #2 was released last fall, and sequential artist Max Ink was added to Theatre Summit's loosely organized "editorial board." Ink's comic strip Blink has become a regular feature.

"Matt appreciates sequential art; I appreciate theatre," says Ink - and while both expressions may seem poles apart on the culture scale, Ink and Slaybaugh say there's a symbiotic energy that reaches out to encompass all art, no matter what the form. It's that energy the pair hopes Theatre Summit embodies.

If art synergy is the heart of Theatre Summit, then cooperation - as opposed to competition - is the zine's backbone. That's not hard to understand. Slaybaugh's Blueforms is part of the Columbus Theatre League (CTL), a cooperative arrangement with other local theatre groups to pool talent, resources, experience and knowledge to improve the Columbus theatre scene for both theatre professionals and audiences. Theatre Summit features news and shows of CTL members of course. But it also includes show listings for most Columbus theatre companies - from equity player CATCO to the less well-known Wetco (Women's Explosive Theatre Company) - and everything in between.

The third issue of Theatre Summit came out this spring. It's on bright pink paper in case a few copies may still be lying around. In it, you'll find news about Out of Our Heads Improv, CTL's newest member; a brief history of the Short North Playhouse; and interviews with Michael Herring, founder of Red Herring Theatre Ensemble, Hand-Dog Theatre's Mike Holmes; and Dave Wallingford of Eye Stop Productions. The back page "Theatre Summons" provides a three-month glimpse of upcoming shows.

Issue #4 will be out this summer - with more news about Hand-Dog which, along with Blueforms, will be participants in Cincinnati's first fringe festival.

"Columbus is a great cultural town, but not everybody knows it," says Ink. And Slaybaugh adds that he, like many other theatre professionals like living here. "There's an assumption that you have to go elsewhere to make the art scene," he says. "But you can make the art scene where you are. What I hope Theatre Summit does is convince theatre students graduating from OSU and Otterbein that they don't have to move if they don't want to. They can stay right here and perform."

If you are unable to locate this quarter's issue or future copies of Theatre Summit, you can go online at www.theatresummit,net for not only the contents of the most current issue, but also for archived articles, news updates, information on auditions and special events, Columbus theatre links, and the "upcoming shows" calendar, of course.

The Web site may be your best bet for keeping yourself theatre-savvy. The colorful zines go fast, and like most zines, are quickly becoming collector's items.

For more information or to support Theatre Summit with a monetary contribution, contact Matt Slaybaugh, Blueforms Theatre Group, P.O. Box 10630, Columbus, Ohio 43201.

CATCO Wine Auction set for June 10

Whether you're a wine lover who loves theatre, or a theatre lover who loves wine, circle June 10 on your calendar and make it a point to be at the Hartman Ballroom, 275 S. Fourth Street, sixth floor, at 6:30 p.m. for the Contemporary American Theatre Company's annual Summer Wine Auction.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with wine and hors d'oeuvres; the live auction will follow at 8 p.m. Auction participants will have an opportunity to bid on rare, vintage, and specialty wines, including bottles from the cellars of Lafite, Mouton, Latour, Margaux, Diamond Creek, Far Niente, Duckhorn and Chateau Montelena - all donated by individuals and wineries. There will be value-priced Bordeaux, as well, along with big Spanish Reds, and Australian and New Zealand wines.

If you're a teetotaler, you can come as well. A silent auction, held throughout the evening, will feature a variety of merchandise, as well as dining, vacation, and arts event packages.

For a complete list of auction items, see For reservations, call Elizabeth Jewell at 719-6614.

On stage in June

If you haven't yet caught CATCO's production of Arsenic and Old Lace, there is still time to reserve a seat. The Contemporary American Theatre Company's production continues through June 13 at the Studio One theatre in the Riffe Center. Linda Dorff and Ionia Zelenka are wonderful as the Brewster sisters who have the perfect recipe for elderberry wine - and a lot of good fun besides. Call (614) 469-0939 for tickets or for more information.

MadLab and Full Frontal Nudity will perform Are You My Daddy? The production will feature sketch and improvisational comedy, including favorite sketches, video commercial parodies and even some improv games thrown into the mix. On June 19, MadLab will host an improv art show at 6 p.m. Artists will be at the theatre, materials in hand, ready to create art on-the-spot for MadLab's gallery. Are You My Daddy? will appear at MadLab's theatre, 105 N. Grant Street, from June 17 through July 10. For more information, or to order tickets online, go to

You can still catch Southern Comfort at 2Co's Cabaret, 790 N. High Street. Here's your chance to catch Waiting Room, the one-act play by Shadowbox's James Makofsky, named best short play and best original short of 1997 by Suburban News Publications and The Other Paper. Shadowbox spokesperson Katy Psenicka says it has been resurrected in honor of Shadowbox's 10th anniversary of performing cabaret-style theatre. Other short pieces included in the mix are: Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard, Highway Patrol by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Dave Barry's This Real Man Can Drive Any Truck Named Tonka. What better fare for a light evening of summer entertainment? For tickets or more information, call (614) 470-2267, or go online at

It was a dark and stormy nightÉActors' Theatre Company will open its summer season in Schiller Park with Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's most compelling plays. It opens June 17th and will run through July 15th. No tickets necessary. The show is free. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs, and plan to arrive early for the best seats. The play starts at 8 p.m., and is presented Thursday through Sunday evenings. For more information, you can always go online to

And coming in JulyÉ

Eye Stop Productions is planning to present Psycho Beach Party the last weekend in July. "In the Wings" will include more details in the July issue.

T.J. Gerckens nominated for award

CATCO production manager T.J. Gerckens, who happens to light Broadway and off-Broadway shows in his "spare time," received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Lighting Design for The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci. The play, by Mary Zimmerman, was produced off-Broadway at SecondStage Theatre.

Gerckens won the 2002 Drama Desk award, along with the Ovation and Lucille Lortel awards for his work on Zimmerman's Metamorphoses.

The award-winning lighting designer's most recent local work was for CATCO's Shorts Festival 2004. Congratulations T.J.!

Playwrights: send us your scripts

Theatregoers who happened to catch MadLab's Theatre Roulette last month or CATCO's Shorts Festival 2004 in April, learned there are a number of funny, and very talented playwrights right here in Ohio.

If you think you might be one of them, MadLab invites you to submit a script to Theatre Roulette 2005. (Theatre Roulette is MadLab's annual festival of new plays.) Scripts can run from five minutes in length to forty-five minutes, and the deadline for submissions is November 29, 2004. That should give you plenty of time to pull your thoughts together, and get them down on paper. In case you're one of those chronic procrastinators, though, don't worry. MadLab says it will continue to accept play submissions beyond the deadline, "for subsequent Theatre Roulettes and other productions." Visit MadLab's Web site for detailed submission guidelines.

Upcoming seasons

The curtain may be coming down for the summer for downtown theatre companies, but CATCO and Red Herring Theatre Ensemble are already looking ahead to their next seasons.

CATCO artistic director Geoffrey Nelson has selected that company's 2004-2005 schedule, all of which, he says, revolve around the theme of passion.

Here's what you'll find at CATCO next season:

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, Oct. 1-24.

The Underpants, adapted by Steve Martin from a play by Carl Sternheim, Nov. 26-Dec. 19.

The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jenson, Jan. 21-Feb. 13, 2005.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill by Lanie Roberts, March 4-27.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, April 15-May 8.

Boston Marriage by David Mamet, June 3-26.

To subscribe to CATCO's 2004-2005 season, or for more information, call (614) 469-0939 or log on to

Red Herring artistic director Maureen Ryan has chosen an eclectic range of plays for the company's 2004-2005 season that nicely reinforces its "theatre out of the mainstream" mission.

To begin the season, the troupe will present the world premiere of a new play, A Set of Thoughtful Guidelines for Leading a Happy Life, by ensemble member Chris Dickman. (Dickman performed the lead role in Red Herring's The Shape of Things, which will wrap up its run Saturday, June 5.) Thoughtful Guidelines examines the American family from the perspective of an amnesiac who, as he watches television, slowly pieces his memory back together with the help of frenetically-paced sitcom episodes that span all the archetypes of American families. The play will be performed August 12 through September 4 at Studio Two in the Riffe Center.

The rest of Red Herring's season stacks up like this:

Burn This by Lanford Wilson, Sept. 23-Oct. 16

Topdog/Underdog, the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning play by Suzan-Lori Parks, Jan. 6-Jan.23

Big Love (a remake of Aeschlyus' Suppliant Maidens) by Charles Mee, May 19-June 11.

To order subscription tickets for Red Herring's 2004-2005 season, call 469-0919.

May 2004

Spring brings new crop of Ohio-grown plays


Each spring, Short North and downtown theatergoers eagerly anticipate the bright new crop of original (and Ohio-grown) comedies and dramas that begin to make their appearances in March and continue through May.

Here's a look at what you'll find in area theaters this season:

In the Short North

Love, Laughter and Lies 2004 has been packing in crowds at 2Co's Cabaret, 790 N. High Street, since St. Patrick's Day, but if you haven't managed to catch a performance yet, don't worry. You have until May 15 to slide on in for a sampling of something new - and something old in recognition of Shadowbox Cabaret's 10th anniversary. Previous Shadowbox and 2Co's patrons will enjoy the revamped Landscape with Waitress by Robert Pines. Imagine an awkward relationship between - well, the politically correct term now is "server" - and a customer. David Gigliotti and Stephanie Shull portray the pair.

Also on tap for the evening: Can-Can, a monologue presented by Arturo Vivante, and the poetry of Charles Bukowski and Robert Francis. Music, provided by 2Co's house band, Downtown DFN (led by Matt Hahn) is an appropriate blend of love (Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover"), lies (Fleetwood Mac's "Tell Me Lies") and laughter ("Lullaby" by comedian Stephen Lynch).

Performances are held every Thursday through Saturday. Doors open for the 7 pm Thursday performances at 6 pm, and for the 8 pm Friday and Saturday performances at 7 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. To make reservations, contact the 2Co's Cabaret hotline, (614) 470-2267, or click on


Don't look now but the Southern Hotel has just moved uptown. The venerable Columbus hotel is the setting for the Contemporary American Theatre Company's (CATCO) Shorts Festival 2004. This year's festival presents an especially sparkling lineup of new plays, including two by emerging American playwrights Eric Coble of Cleveland and Bill Corbett of Minneapolis.

Coble's play, Bright Ideas, had a recent off-Broadway run at the Manhattan Class Company, and was also presented at the Twelve Miles West Theatre in New Jersey. Coble's play for the Shorts is titled Remote. Corbett's play The Stuff of Dreams was commissioned by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and recently toured the country. His Shorts entry is titled Beat the Press.

Other Ohio playwrights whose works will be featured include Cheryl Games (Trip Twenty), Jerry Holt (Smoking Room), Chiquita Mullins Lee (Exclusive Deluxe Accommodations), Mark Mann (The Orgy in 414), Jennifer Stoessner (Letting Go), and Mary Tensing (Sucking the Marrow). Veteran CATCO actor/ director Jonathan Putnam will direct a cast that includes Rick Clarke, Anne Diehl, Robin Amy Gordon, Tom Holliday, Alan Bomar Jones, and Patricia Winbush.

The Shorts Festival 2004 runs April 2 through 25, and tickets are $25 and $35 - available from the CATCO box office, (614) 461-0010. Students and seniors may purchase tickets at half price for the day's show, based on availability.

More original plays pop up during the MadLab Theatre Roulette 2004 Festival of New Work, opening May 6 and running through May 29. Theatre Roulette is based on a model that was developed by MadLab four years ago. Original work by central Ohio artists are featured in three separate programs that are rotated throughout the Roulette's run.

All performances are held at MadLab, 105 N. Grant Avenue. Ticket are $6 for MadLab members, students, and seniors, and $8-$15 for the general public. Festival passes, good for any three admissions, are also available for $20-$45, or $15 for MadLab members. Performance times are 8 pm, with three shows on the last Saturday, May 29 at 2, 4, and 8 pm.

This year's programming includes: Testify Rectify, featuring Learning to Say No by Krista Apple (directed by John Dranschak); Asshole by Rebecca Jones (directed by Trisha Jones); and It's for You by Noell Wolfgram Evans (directed by Jennifer Barlup), Surivival Revival, featuring Avarice in Wonderland by John Kalvin (directed by Greg McGill); Prometheus and Sisyphus by James Stover (directed by Nikki Smith); and Never Moved By the Lord by Lizard McGee (directed by Jeff Potts) and Nirvana Manana, featuring Karmaleon by Dan Welsh (directed by Dan Welsh); Land-scape by Arthur Ryel-Lindsey), (directed by Michael Bailey); Maybe Tomorrow by Steve O'Neil, directed by Andy Batt); and Last Oreo Cookie Play by William Seebring, (directed by Jared Saltman).

For more information or to order tickets, contact (614) 470-2333 or e-mail:

The next new Ohio-grown work can be found at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce offices, located at 37 N. High Street. There, members of the 11-year old theatre troupe Women at Play will be performing It's Academic, an original script written by the group's members, on May 6, 7, 8, 9, and 14, 15, and 16.

The play is set during an academic meeting, and according to Women at Play artistic director Katherine Burkman, the drama provides a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of academia.

Women at Play's spring performances are generally site-specific, and It's Academic is no exception. "An academic meeting would typically be held in a hotel or meeting room of some kind," says Burkman - and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce generously opened its doors to the group.

According to Burkman, there is a fairy-tale theme to the play, as the main character, Abigail (think "Rapunzel") finds herself locked in an ivory tower by her professor as she labors at writing his keynote speech. Will Abigail be rescued? That's one of the play's dramatic questions, and you'll just have to attend a performance to learn the answer. Burkman will co-direct the play with troupe member Jane Cottrill.

Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 pm; Sunday performances at 2 pm, and the Thursday at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15 or $10 for students and seniors. For tickets or information, call (614) 457-6580.

And elsewhere

BlueForms Theatre Group, which had its beginnings in the Short North, is taking its original work, The Pursuit of Happiness, to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Performances are scheduled in the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival Theatre, 719 Race Street on May 13, 16, and 21.

The play asks some tough dramatic questions - about the role of entertainment in our lives, how American citizens have been replaced by "consumers" and how government is relying more and more on corporate interests. The play's bottom line, however, is that we can change the world by asking these tough questions. For more information about the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and ordering tickets, go to

Columbus Children's Theatre is ready to celebrate!

Bill Goldsmith, Columbus Children Theatre's executive and artistic director, says his company is busy putting the final touches on "The Night of Stars," their 40th anniversary celebration that will be held April 24 at the King Art Center, 867 Mt. Vernon Avenue.

All the stops have been pulled out for this one-of-a-kind affair. Former Miss America (1972) and CCT alum Laurel Lea Schaefer will fly in from California to emcee the evening, which will include cocktails, a silent auction (including golf packages and a theatre weekend in NYC), dinner, and entertainment, of course.

Goldsmith is especially pleased with the scores of theatre alumni who have sent video and written testimonials, or who will attend as guests that evening. "We have an attorney who contacted us through the alumni link on our Web site," says Goldsmith. "He won one of our writing contests when he was a kid, and he said that event changed his whole life."

The doctors, teachers, lawyers and other non-performer alums will be joined by Broadway performers, Hollywood produ-cers and other entertainment artists who once participated in CCT shows and classes. Entertainment will be provided by CCT's Park Street Players, who will reprise scenes from the theatre company's long history of shows, and the evening will conclude with a performance by Robert Post, whose one-man shows (including the 2001 POSTman delivers) have received rave reviews. Post developed some of his material at CCT's Park Street address, says Goldsmith.

Mayor Michael Coleman is expected to attend the event. So will Evelyn "Sis" Bloom, founder of the Columbus Junior Theatre of the Arts - now CCT.

Tickets for the event are $150 person, and corporate tables are also being sold. The money raised from the event is earmarked for the theatre's Arts Stabilization Fund.

"Our goal was to create a unique event, unlike anything Columbus has seen before," says Goldsmith. His next goal? To turn the celebration into an annual event.

But don't wait until next year to attend. You'll miss out on all this year's fun.

"People are going to have such a good time," says Goldsmith, "they won't want to leave."

For more information about "The Night of Stars" or to reserve your ticket, contact CCT at (614) 224-6672 or visit

"Playboy" Actress Drew from Irish Heritage

Those of you who caught Bread and Circus Theatre's Playboy of the Western World last month know that Keely Kurtas portrayed her Irish character Pegeen beautifully. What you may not know is Kurtas' bloodlines may have given her a little extra help.

Kurtas' paternal great-grandparents arrived in the U.S. from County Mayo - the same county that Playboy playwright J.M. Synge used as a setting in many of his works. And Kurtas was born on the same day and month as her maternal great-grandfather, Patrick Duffy, who emigrated from County Donegal. Just for good measure, Patrick's brother Neill Duffy - Kurtas' great-great-uncle - was considered to be one of Donegal's greatest story-tellers. A collection of his stories and songs is considered one of the most valuable works owned by the Irish Folklore Commission.

So, if you happened to have seen a Claddaugh ring on Kurtas' finger during the Bread and Circus production, it wasn't a fashion statement. It was Kurtas' proud tribute to her Irish ancestry. She's been wearing the ring since she was eight.

Bread and Circus' next production, the company's first musical, will be Zombies from the Beyond. It will run at the company's location, 1066 N. High Street, in September.

© 2005 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio
All rights reserved.